Founder’s history

The inception of camellia

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Maybe your light is a seed and the darkness the dirt, in spite of the uneven odds beauty lifts from the earth.
— Sleeping At Last { Uneven Odds }

Part 1: Inception

The Camellia Sinensis seedling in embryonic dormancy, was sown into the soil of my consciousness long before cognitive of her significance.

In darkness, beneath the Earth’s surface, forces of Mother Natures’ perfectly combined elements: water, air, earth and fire {Sun}. Light activates enzymes to liberate the DNA code within the seed’s husk. Spiralling double helix, deliberately coded by Creator, kismet predestined before time began. Germination; golden brush strokes of memories, painted like grandma Alma’s strawberry tea, of Earl Grey tea parties thrown for teddy bears and Vivian {Mother}. Light birthed from darkness, resiliency from adversity, destruction and tillage of soil.

Thriving & Thirsty; tiny roots spreading outwards form a foundation. Like Reginald {Father} arriving home, cold “choice”, day-old thermos of creamy-and-sugar filled Red Rose in hand. Promised Sidewalk Cafe Lego sets and Baby Loves to Talk only ever halfway actualized. Too-sweet and ever-bitter melodies, echoing in dissonance for decades from the mountains of my memory. His favorite expression of love: “I wouldn’t trade you for all the tea in China.” Excitement eclipsed by disappointment, always in tug-of-suburban-war. Tears sewn like seeds, a gentle breeze, the breath of Life brought forth from thought into the physical dimension. A birth of a planet; Life exploding into existence by way of pressured chemicals, radiating a glimmer in the dust, from vapour to tactile.

Like Alice {pg.49} falling into the upside down, travelling along the ascending path; an ethereal tea trail traces a temperate, high-mountain climate. Spring melts into summer, from winter’s soil of all encompassing struggle, and inspite of the uneven odds, delicate buds emerge out of the woodwork.

Four seasons multiplied by four trips around the sun: time required for Camilla Sinensis’ full maturatuation, planting to harvest. Chronos and kairos collide inside and outside time and space. Patience sustains the seedling, stalled and stilled in maturation, transformation in phases of pause.


Part 2: Seedling

First trip around the sun: the natural anthem of day to night, light to darkness, life to death, technicolour fades to monochrome. At the tender age of ten, seedling’s husk cracks, Light leaks out of the Expansion which goes on and on. After rain; Blood-floodgates of fury unleash dark clouds of trauma, sense of urgency evoking a sudden game of hide and seek. Saltwater tears and holy water gathered and held in colourful jars of yixing clay, beaded by tropical dew after the storm. Broken vessels; Like tea seeping through the cracked bone china cup, angrily thrown, shattering to pieces. A mother sidesteps the wreckage, swiftly fleeing entrapment with her five children. Abandoned to reconcile the shards and chips of a fractured family.

Brown rabbits turn to white as the air grows crisp and snowflakes fall. That first winter seemed to last forever. A dull throb creeps in, like frost numbing the seedlings tender root tips. The cold seeps in and the seed-heart swells with sorrow. This freezing becomes her fire, a warmth pumped in through the red interior of Camellia’s vena cava. Enclosed within a household filled with creatures: siblings and dayhome children, seeking shelter from the chill. Centrifugal force draws roots into earth, and sprouts skywards. What had been terror would soon be tea fields.

Chilled to the bones: defying the bitter arctic winds of that season, a coal of hope burns bright within the hardship. Building beneath the surface, a crackle becomes a roar as if to say, “Is that all you’ve got? Add more fuel to this fire, I dare you.” Kintsugi; filling wounds with a weight in gold, to fuse shattered pieces back together by honouring the break. Resilience smoked into leaves like Lapsang Souchong, roaring fire, a hunger of the pinewood, preserving, enduring the cold, arduous deliverance to Holland along the Silk Road.

In winter, growth is unseen. Roots taking hold in the soil of her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. A glimpse into the future: roots, stems, and leaves which grow in diameter, cultivating courage, determination, and leadership.


Part 3: Sapling

Second trip around the sun: Snow melts; transforming glaciers to rivers carving paths towards oceans, unveiling a green garden of undergrowth. White rabbits darken as the season morphs from an icy wonderland into a forest of lush maple. Burly bearded men, tool belts loaded and measuring tapes, hammer out the framework of a Habitat for Humanity. Walls intact upon the foundation of leadership, growth and hope.

Humid summer heat of Georgian Bay coaxes the smell of climbing trees from wooden bunk beds. Leaders of the hockey-player doughnut man’s kids camp guide underprivileged children to cultivate the arts of; navigation, survival, strategic planning and coexisting with nature. Droplets create concentric rings in lake water from paddles tips and pouring rain. Gruelling portages; backpack burdens of belongings and basic nautical necessities nurture leadership, sprouting new buds on Camellia’s stems.

Cha, written characters descend from the ancient middle kingdom, meaning as deeply rooted as the buds transforming to leaves; depicting the interlacement of sky, earth and humanity.

Seedling to sapling; swelling roots drink in abundance, expanding, demanding space, exploring wilder terroir, climates and cultures, rich in ceremony and soil. An honouring of wisdom, of tradition, of agriculture which feeds community and collaboration. Stability; painted like beautifully worn and weathered dirt-filled hands, two generations of resilient, Mennonite female lineage. A horticultural means of survival, a therapy, to Shake Off Your Worries in the spirit of Alma. Backyard gardening; Camellia’s roots submerged and nourished in social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Photosynthesis converts light, air and water into an ancient medicinal chemical composition of nutrients. Sunlight instigates transparency as each leafs cell membrane becomes translucent. At Crescent Heights; enlargers beams photons through contrast filters and 35mm black and white film, exposing light sensitive white blank pages. As x-rays to bones, decode the maps of marrow, so too did copper-colored crystalline strips divulge Camellia’s kismet. Relativity of space, time and the speed of light; first conscious crossover from chronos to kairos. Existentialism on prom night; a disruption of the ordinary, the chaos, the struggle of hormone-filled days of youth and poor choices. Ownership of choice, only lead to lessons learned and experience earned.

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Upon arrival; a sweet fragrance, a galvanizing lure beckoning from every corner of the earth and in every plane of time. Like Alice in pursuit of the White Rabbit, a locked door appears. Eat Me, Drink Me: instructions inscribed on an antique tabletop. Camellia the key, unknowingly already possessed; shrinking and growing to fit through the threshold. A wave of intoxicating aromas washes over, the weight of antique chestnut doors to a teahouse, like a riptide, a portal pulling one into the undertow of other dimensions.

Steeped in heat and harvest; fall ushers in an unanticipated sanctuary paired with a consuming appetite for wisdom, knowledge and the pursuit to find umami. An atmosphere conducive to reflection, creation and dissolution; outer defenses erode. Comfort of heritage furniture evoking nostalgia and curiosity. Every visit a series of sips: tea tastes of exploration, elicits discovery. Each tea its own story, intertwined with a greater telling. Steeped in warm offering within circular walls of clay cups, earth and stone, simultaneously familiar yet mysterious. Like shipwrecked treasures washed up by the tide, upon the adored port-city shoreline of in the Burrard Inlet.

“The tea-room was an oasis in the dreary waste of existence where weary travellers could meet to drink from the common spring of art-appreciation.”
— Kakuzo Okakura { The Book of Tea }

Core memories of warm patio nights spent sipping chilled tea beneath the string-lit trees of Tomkin’s Park. Lingering fall heat combusts into a sustainable flame of intrigue which burns strong and bright till spring. A reminder that all seasons must end, as time evolves. A travel bug bites, like an insect invading the bloodstream, a driving force to evade familiarity is born. “Beat on” beyond the universal challenge line. Each subsequent experience functioning like a xylem corridor, transporting life and nourishment through Camellia. Like veins of Hawaiian lava layers deep beneath the earth’s surface, transparent like the ocean. Only visible to the human eye from an x-ray birds eye view. Glowing blood flow through the body, always leading straight to the heart. Each rivers ability to both create new life, new land, while wielding the power to destroy simultaneously. Old things, destroyed by purity only to make way for the newness of grace. As a bridge between heaven & earth comes hope, redemption and the deterioration of earthly hardships.

Generosity cultivated through volunteer trips to learn the art of service. Beginning in the streets and needle-littered back alleys of Vancouver at 12, to painting the houses on a reservation in Montana at 14, to playing with the niños of Mexicali at 16, and children of the culturally-diverse Montréal at 17. From prairie to coastline: shipwrecked in transatlantic sea water. A “salt water film on the jar of your ashes” forms in a flourishing of foreshadow: a death to come which began decades before.

The Ignite of winter’s fire, kindled an unquenchable thirst for understanding, knowledge, and revelation, combusting into a sustainable flame. Frosted flakes fall from the air, finding a final resting place, crystallizing into hoarfrost on stems within the field of terror in which Camillia grew. After many miles of wandering, the Painted Lady caterpillar spins a silken armoury for preservation, conducive to total transformation from which there is no return; a rubicon.

Vanessa Meets Tea
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.
— Brene Brown { Daring Greatly }

Part 4: Maturation

Third trip around the burning ball of fire in the sky: one more year till harvest, roots excavate deeper still, while simultaneously forming wings like the bird of paradise. Like a bird set free, a hummingbird flees winters bitterness; an ill-stricken escapade, 15000 feet of pressure towards the mouth of Hispaniola. Enduring the perilous pilgrimage in search the nectar of a tropical paradise. Heat rising from the inside out and the outside in. Foraged local root of ginger and honey in baby jars made by Haitian bumbles, distilled into a healing elixir. Gratitude permanently boiled into bones from the ordination. This path not paved by the flavour-filled or faint-hearted; 11km in Gallaz flats to Citadelle Laferrière towards the Hot Gates. A few more tools to attain, required for the next stretch of the journey.

Smouldering spring heat; painting sunbeams on the open cliff face of Black Dragon Ledge on Mt. Huashan. Instinct and entrepreneurial intellect sharpen as the path transitions to the peak of the Royal Mount, graced with a supportive silk harness of a Tea Sommelier’s training. Theory distills to kinesthetic energy; plot thickens with contrast filters while developer defines the great lines, animating inanimate photographic printing paper into the treasure map. Light illuminates the historical cracks in tea’s global industry; farm ethics & production, inequality, sex trafficking, logistics and an imbalance of value and wealth. Past in present; shuffling along makeshift pathways of ancient rickety boards built by slaves, stapled together by rusted iron rods. Names etched in wood grains; Oolong, Tea Desire, & Teaopia {Teavana}. Worn and weathered by nature's elements and the brokenness of colonialism and consumerism, millennia old. A tea house beyond this deadly decade long trek, blooming sakura offers hope after winter’s agonizing despair, in her annual display of blush pink glory.

Summer heat rises; leaves fall like ashes from Camellia’s stems as Mongol fire consumed her sacred Qianxun Pagoda. Flames burst out of wreckage, fortifying in Camellia a furious passion to redeem the industry which enveloped her. A phoenix cannot rise without the ashes of a wildfire, nor can coal become diamond without intense heat and pressure. As Heat rises further in the embers, “one does not simply walk into Mordor.” Drawn away on the eve of battle to summon the sworn allegiance of supernatural realm, destined to be fulfilled.

A lush oasis, beyond a corridor in the rockwall, towering peaks of the White Mountains. Concealed by cross-iron green beams within a red rock canyon. A dojo; a sanctuary nestled amongst the greenery, further sharpening the mind and body for this deadly journey. As the mind expands, treasures found here, perfectly fitted and equipped, climbing shoes, harness, chalk bag and rope. A settled mind blooms forth reflecting new perspectives, light unveils perfect pitches and routes to growth. Less like simply climbing, more like bounding elevation towards the corporate peak. Skyrocketing 500K{ilometers} to a million pearls worth in only 2 light years. Coded in the DNA of the Painted Lady, flight paths of migration from Prairies to the Baja Peninsula, an epic journey of discovery and conservation found in the heat of Magdalena Bay. The most precious Pearl inherited, a gift of sisterhood transcending this dimension. Upon arrival home; death, a closely lurking companion along this journey, five lives to be lost, plummet in a fall spanning the next 5 years.

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A presage, omen of spoken words translated from vision; between two palms, metaphysically woven hammock made of ethereal material, island paradise and tropical storms. Gracious Tempest; Great Waves crashing upon the shore, clouds dark as night, lightning strikes, rolling thunder, while wicked winds whip sand sideways. Exfoliation, sanding dead layers, refining as hurricane winds rock faithful fibers in rhythmic motions. Peace consumes; serenity steadfast like a resilient palm facing vigorous and relentless chaos. Designfully planted in sand beneath; jars of clay, melange of shapes, sizes and shades ovally arranged. Within the circular walls; liquid volumes {tea}, rising and falling, like the waves of the raging sea outside. Slippery snake eyes disguised; curling ‘round palm trees trunk, seductive mission of destruction, a bounty for blood. Feeble and failed attempts of razor sharp fangs to sever anchor eye’s supporting weight. Unbreakable fiber, peace prevails. Reframed at lightning speed; View Master slides, each image, constant hammock between trees while surroundings segued. From beach to mountains to forests and deserts. The transformation of her outer universe reflecting the changes of her infinite spirit within.

At 2014m, summer ushers in The Fall; a portal through White Mountain rock-wall leading to Fantasia. A Himalayan Cheshire Cat, a Kenyan spirit guide vanishes as quickly as he materializes, traversing between dimensions. Telepathic inception, message delivered to mind, “never feel guilty for starting again” rupi kaur, digested by body and received by heart 5 lightyears later.  Tossed from Ha Ling Peak into a restless Central Pacific, washing up on the second largest fragment of the Hawaiian archipelago. Salty Grave; “This is the death of your old season, your old self and it is a rebirth of your true self.” Lobster shell outgrown; root-bound, stress under pressure, break free, evade and seek shelter in caves of rock. One can only be reborn after death, a new body can only regenerate after the old one dies. A swift relocation to awake the soul, not knowing how far I’d go. Transplanted from indigenous to foreign soil; rich in volcanic minerals, nutrients and Spirit, a New Hope was found. Roots shaken, threshing old soil free from the confinement and suffocation of entangled weeds, “a careful pruning of my dead leaves”.

As swift as geographical coordinates and elevation changes climate and vegetation regions. So shifted the seas & skies as Hurricane Ana, a mighty roar blew in. In the wake her stormy destruction; “an ocean between” those loved and lost, the passing away of an old life, in a second, everything was barren. Kairos, holding space with time; a painful three month detox facilitated by nature’s intoxicating purity. Tropical dew; an old bamboo house elevated from it’s deteriorated foundation, rescued from sandblasted beach to be set on the Cornerstone. The approaching chill of Winter’s death concealed by the heat, humidity and lusciousness of Pacific ocean air.